Turns out girls really can do anything. We can change car tyres, prepare wholesome meals, help with dreaded school projects and provide financially for our families. Yes, we can.
But the problem is, on some levels, we’ve been sold a lemon. That Girls Can Do Anything campaign we were brought up on didn’t really explain the personal costs of juggling paid employment with caring for sick children, breastfeeding at/before work, attending school and supporting school events, taking kids to dental appointments and covering school books.
A quick declaration – my kids are my world. I always wanted to be a Mum. Long before I wanted to be a journalist or a PR practitioner or a teacher. I don’t know why. I just did. I feel blessed by my two gorgeous sons and step-daughters. I am thankful every day for them.
So to be clear, this is not a whinge. Just a reality check.
A lot of women’s magazines feature health sections where I’ve noticed a common theme. Lots of ways to combat stress and tiredness, to raise your energy levels and maintain your fitness. I suffer from pernicious anemia (low B12) and have for several years. I’ve had the shots (three lots of 6 weeks) and can’t say they make much difference. The first time the doctor asked me if I was feeling tired, I laughed. Not because it was funny. Because I can’t remember not feeling tired. And I know a lot of you can relate to that.
I’m pleased to be past the stage of getting up every 3-4 hours to breastfeed. (Recently I read B12 can be lost through breastfeeding so maybe that’s where it all started?) It’s just that life never gets simpler. Now, I work late because from 3-6pm I’m busy running my students and my children to after school activities. Which again, I love. It’s just there’s never time to catch your breath. Me time? Yeah, right.
So here’s a few simple tips to help you keep the tank full:
- Accept help – another mum has Master 10 after school on Wednesday then hubby picks up both boys and takes them to rugby practice so she can get tea ready for her family.
- Set a limit – is it necessary to play four sports a term? It’s okay to say no to your kids and set limits to after school activities (admittedly we’ve ended up doing futsal and touch again but it’s the last time, I swear…)
- Kids can help – our 14-year old gets a bus home so has jobs to do such as grabbing the washing in, setting the fire etc. Leaving a note helps. It’s what families do.
- Networks – we’re lucky to have lots of good neighbours. One elderly couple offered to take our dog out on Wednesdays. They love having her (all care no responsibility) and it’s one less walk to fit in. I take them things I bake that fussy kids won’t eat. Win: Win.
- Say no – recently, I returned a raffle to school. Unsold. First time ever. I also sent an email explaining we already had a raffle to sell for the same school, plus one for another school, plus two for sports clubs. Given we both work in schools, we can’t sell them at work. We don’t have family living nearby so generally end up buying the whole lot ourselves. Enough of this madness! Sorry but no can do.
- Fuel up – we live out of town so this summer I spent a bit of time in the car waiting for Master 14’s athletics practices to finish. I started keeping bags of dried nuts and fruit in the glove-box so I could refuel. (Something I hadn’t done since pregnant and commuting). I also use that time to do marking so I don’t have to work after tea. Working smarter people.
- Power nap – love them. If I’m first home, I’ll grab the washing in, put tea on then put my head down for 30 minutes. Works wonders.
- Fresh air – go for a walk, or a run, or a skip. Just get outside because those endorphins could be the difference between loosing your shizza over some minor thing at tea time or keeping calm and carrying on. 😉
- Furry friends – while adding a pet to your commitments might seem overkill, having a small dog in our family motivates me to get outside. Who could resist?!
So what are your tips for squeezing it all in?